I must go on boasting.1 Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations2 from the Lord.
I know a man in Christ3 who fourteen years ago was caught up4 to the third heaven.5 Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know--God knows.63
And I know that this man--whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows--
was caught up7 to paradise.8 He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.
I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.96
Even if I should choose to boast,10 I would not be a fool,11 because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations,12 there was given me a thorn in my flesh,13 a messenger of Satan,14 to torment me.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.159
But he said to me, "My grace16 is sufficient for you, for my power17 is made perfect in weakness.18"19 Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight20 in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships,21 in persecutions,22 in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.23
I have made a fool of myself,24 but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the "super-apostles,"25 even though I am nothing.2612
The things that mark an apostle--signs, wonders and miracles27--were done among you with great perseverance.
How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you?28 Forgive me this wrong!2914
Now I am ready to visit you for the third time,30 and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents,31 but parents for their children.3215
So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well.33 If I love you more,34 will you love me less?
Be that as it may, I have not been a burden to you.35 Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery!
Did I exploit you through any of the men I sent you?
I urged36 Titus37 to go to you and I sent our brother38 with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not act in the same spirit and follow the same course?
Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God39 as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends,40 is for your strengthening.4120
For I am afraid that when I come42 I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be.43 I fear that there may be quarreling,44 jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions,45 slander,46 gossip,47 arrogance48 and disorder.4921
I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved50 over many who have sinned earlier51 and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery52 in which they have indulged.